Fishing Tips

Barb Munneke

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Western USA and Salt Water Fishing

How does one begin to explain a love affair with trout that began in your youth and has blossomed and grown throughout your adulthood?  We grew up spending summers at our family’s fishing resort in Buena Vista, CO.  I lived to watch a little red and white bobber submerge every morning signaling a Rainbow trout might be interested in the worm on the hook below.  My sister and I would spend hours at the banks of the crystal clear 36 acre lake, fed by the melting snow of the collegiate peaks Harvard, Yale and Princeton.  No one could imagine the combination of pine scents, cool summer breezes, and peace that mountain waters can bring. 

As time progressed into my adulthood, I discovered the most beautiful of all fishing casts in the art of fly fishing.  It began a passion in me to study books and practice casts during the winter months so that I would be ready to dry fly fish in the Colorado Mountains of summertime.  After purchasing a second home in the mountains of Colorado in the early 90’s, I progressed with practice and found great guides who were willing to teach me the areas of entomology, dry fly casting, strategies, reading water, and presentation of dry flies.  There’s so much more to this sport than meets the eye!! 

I was eventually given a trip as a birthday gift from my husband to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.  It was a 92 mile float trip camping out 6 days and it was glorious!  The Reel-Women Fly Fishing Adventures arranged this beautiful opportunity through Solitude River Trips and that’s when I decided that this was the sport for me!  The fly fishing journey for me has been going on for 16 years now.  There’s an indescribable thrill when you see that dry fly jiggling on top of the water as a Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat or Brookie sip the delectable fly into their mouths.  When the hook is set correctly, he’s in for a ride and you are the driver….until any number of things can happen which he shows you who really is the boss!  So enjoy the moment while it lasts and know it was all worth it when he’s in the boat or swimming away. 

The fly fishing magazines kept luring me to try saltwater fishing in hopes that a tarpon, bonefish or permit might be mine!  I took several saltwater trips with Reel-Women and then fished the Florida Keys with Captain John at Ocean Reef Club Outfitters.  Sight-fishing for the “gray ghost” (bonefish) was exhilarating.  Wading in water in the Bahamas brought delight and adventure when shark were around.  Many times I had a “close encounter of the shark kind” when wading and hoping the large sharks would not devour the helpless bonefish on the end of my line before I could reel them in.  On one occasion, I was on a boat reeling in a bonefish and a shark came out of the water and grabbed the bonefish off the end of the line while in the air!  One of the biggest thrills was landing a 26-pound Permit in Key Largo.  Captain John said, “Some people fish here all their lives and never catch a fish like that.”  Of course, that was humbling that Mr. Permit let me share some moments with him before we set him free to live and entertain another fisherman another day!   

We also took a deep-sea fishing trip to try our luck at yellow fin tuna for a change of pace one day off Crooked Island, Bahamas.  After going offshore for 1.5 hours, we parked our boat between two underwater mountain ranges and waited for the hopeful catch.  Within 2 fruitful hours, four of us women caught over 25 tuna weighing in between 25-32 pounds each.  Every one of them was fileted onboard and iced down for the most wonderful sushi dinner that night that I have ever tasted!  And don’t forget the Key Lime Pie that crowns any Bahamian event!

After taking countless freshwater fishing trips throughout Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, I decided to celebrate my 50th year of life and take a Guide School in Idaho on the South Fork and Henry’s Fork with Reel-Women Fly Fishing Adventures.  That was a great experience and I learned so very much in several areas of river safety, entomology, launching and taking out boats, tying knots for various uses and being more confident in teaching skills for fly fishing.  I have had the opportunity to teach several young people how to fly fish on our local Eagle River in Edwards, CO.  This is a great opportunity to perpetuate our sport. 

As I look back, taking fishing trips with women has been one of my greatest delights.  We seem to all care about the same sport, yet come from many parts of the country to enjoy God’s creation together and celebrate life.  I am so very grateful for the opportunity to get to know their passion for fly fishing and cheer one another on as larger fish are caught then released.  There is always a story to be told as we gather around campfires at night and share the fruit of the vine together.   We celebrate thrills and memories that I look forward to sharing with my future grandchildren someday.  The tales of fishermen are one staple this world has continually to offer.  We wouldn’t want to deny anyone that privilege, would we now?!